How to deploy e911 location services on a wireless data network is a technology issue that FreedomPop is currently grappling with and an issue all U.S. carriers will likely need to get to grips with over time.
The startup, which was created by Skype Ltd. co-founder Niklas Zennstrom in 2011, plans to launch a near-free wireless data service on the Clearwire LLC network within a couple of months. As yet, however, the company hasn't made public how it will enable authorities to locate an emergency call on an iPod using its 4G wireless "Freedom Sleeve."
A company representative says that the company is "still determining this," in an email reply to questions. "We should have more insights by launch later this Summer."
As its users aren't static, it can't just default to the method used by network partner Clearwire, which registers the home addresses of its (fixed) data modem users so it can forward the relevant details to the emergency services in the event of a 911 call. Smartphones using Clearwire always default to the 3G network to locate emergency calls, but clearly that's not an option on an iPod with a WiMax wireless sleeve.
VoIP clients such as Skype and Google Chat, meanwhile, specifically say in the terms and conditions that their voice software doesn't support emergency calls. So, FreedomPop may have to find a workaround for that, particularly as it has said it wants to target its service at teenagers and young adults.
Why this matters
As more and more devices become 4G-only data gadgets, all carriers are likely to look at how to deploy e911 location capabilities on LTE. Spirent Communications plc has a handy rundown of the in-depth issues here.
â€” Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile